When Sage Speaks: Political Communication in Taiwan, Confucian Style

Tao Wang

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Back to the 1990s, a few Asian politicians galvanized a debate on Asian values,
contending that democracy is not compatible with Confucian culture in East Asia. Echoing this view, Huntington (1991) even asserted that “Confucian democracy” is “a contradiction in terms” (307). On the other hand, efforts have been made in philosophy to suggest that Confucian ideals perfectly dovetail with the democratic ethos. It is claimed that the idea of “people as the root” (Minben) may help hold political officials accountable, the spirit of noble men (Junzi) may bring about a robust civil society and so forth. While this debate has demonstrated striking levels of sophistication in theory building, however, there has been very little empirical knowledge about how in reality, Confucian legacies influence the way people understand and behave in a democracy. In this paper, I focus on Taiwan, one of the affluent and consolidated Confucian democracies, to explore what role Confucian culture plays in political communication between elites and citizens. The research uses Facebook data to examine the political messages posted by Taiwanese legislative members from Legislative Yuan. Applying quantitative content analysis, the paper tests the following hypothesis: in the context of online social networks, expressing stronger Confucian values would help political messages draw more support and attention from followers than containing a weaker Confucian orientation. The findings would offer empirical insights into the debate about Confucianism and democracy that has been so far occupied largely by theoretical speculation.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventPSA 68th Annual International Conference - Cardiff City Hall and the Law & Politics Building, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom
Duration: 26 Mar 201828 Mar 2018


ConferencePSA 68th Annual International Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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